Beginning in January, the tuition for music education increased because of changes in Georgia’s civil code that aim to make music schools, renamed art schools, self-financing, nonprofit organizations. So the price for the Mazanishvilis rose from 7 lari (about USD 4) per month to 35 lari (about USD 20).
About 10,000 music students in Tbilisi must pay the new price. The change hasn’t been spread over the whole country yet; now it is taking place as an experiment only in the capital. Because of the change, the total number of art schools in Tbilisi is now 28, down from 30.
School #5 and #6 have been combined into one school.
“There are families that sent three or four children to music school. Now they can afford it for only one of them; that’s why the number of students decreased from 260 to 180 in School #5,” said Lika Chkheidze, the director of Ipalitov-Ivanov’s Art School #6, which now includes the 180 students from School #5.
Schools #11 and #21 also were combined.
In Kote Potskhverashvili’s Art School #7 in Tbilisi, the number of students decreased from 430 to 330 during the first month of the new tuition.
“This reform is a shock for our school,” said Leila Mumladze, deputy director of School #7. “Of course, the number of students will be reduced more.”
The state continues to pay 30 lari per pupil per month, but now this money can go only for certain capital items, such as reconstruction and buying new instruments.
In Tbilisi, for example, the state continues to pay the same sum of money, 2.5 million lari, (about USD 1.5 million) annually. Tuition goes principally for teacher wages.
Mamuka Katsarava, the chief of social supply and culture service for the municipality of Tbilisi, who is coordinating the change in the capital, also predicted that thei number of students would be further reduced because of the tuition increase, but he also said that the quality of education would be improved with new instruments and comfortable classrooms. As a result, he said, the parents will choose schools with good conditions. On the other hand, each school will try to appeal to more students to study at their school.
“Self-financing management also sets up competition among art schools,” said Katsarava.
Under the revised state education law, the state is now obliged to pay only for free general secondary education. Other services, such as sports and music, must be paid through tuition.
Previously music schools were specified to teach only music. Now art schools can open sections such as dancing and painting, in order to receive additional tuition.
In the past, the state covered costs for 258 art schools in Georgia in the state budget. The state paid 30 lari (about USD 18) and the parents added 7 lari (about USD 4) per month for each student. Now the average fee charged to parents for each student is 35 lari a month.
In addition to paying teacher wages from the tuition, the music schools themselves must pay for public utilities, such as heating or electricity, from tuition.
Tbilisi’s Katsarava says that the change, approved by the Sakrebulo, is intended to fight against corruption.
“If people pay for something, they are more careful about it, and the money goes to its purpose,” Katsarava said.
“The directors and music teachers will control the money so that they can’t waste it as they would like.”
The theory behind the new law is that If the parents pay such high tuition, they can’t afford to give bribes. Directors and teachers can’t take money from the tuition because they have to pay for public utilities and their own salary comes from the same source.. They also won’t waste money that must be used for heating and electricity supplies.
Two central music schools in Tbilisi are financed by the Ministry of Culture and Sport. They specialize in preparing students for higher music education. Giorgi Korkadze, the director of Central Music School #2, said that his school receives 400,000 lari, (about USD 235,000 annually), and the education is tuition-free.
But it is difficult for students to get into these two schools because of competition.
“We try to create such programs that are not expensive but very effective, so that every child can have a music education,” said Ramaz Shavlaradze, specialist from the department of educational programs in the Ministry of Culture and Sport. This department developsprograms for all music schools in Georgia.
In addition, 2,000 socially needy students may study free of tuition in Tbilisi, said Mamuka Katcarava.
Maria Mazanishvili doesn’t have any tuition waiver. Her mother doesn’t know how she can pay more than 29 lari, around USD 17 per month, but she wants her daughter to learn to play the piano.